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Anne Queen Lounge | Campus Y, 1st Floor
180 E. Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Emily Baxter is the Director of We Are All Criminals, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to inspire empathy and ignite social change through personal stories of crime, privilege, justice, and injustice, disrupting the barriers that separate us.
Participants in We Are All Criminals tell stories of crimes they got away with. The participants are doctors and lawyers, social workers and students, retailers and retirees who consider how very different their lives could have been had they been caught. The stories are of youth, boredom, intoxication, and porta potties. They are humorous, humiliating, and humbling in turn. They are privately held memories without public stigma; they are criminal histories without criminal records.
We Are All Criminals seeks to challenge society’s perception of what it means to be a criminal and how much weight a record should be given, when truly – we are all criminals. But it is also a commentary on the disparate impact of our nation’s policies, policing, and prosecution: many of the participants benefited from belonging to a class and race that is not overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Permanent and public criminal records perpetuate inequities, precluding millions of people from countless opportunities to move on and move up. We Are All Criminals questions the wisdom and fairness in those policies.
But this goes beyond background checks. It goes beyond how we make choices of who we interview, hire, or to whom we rent. This is about how we view others by how we view ourselves.